History 2201E Lecture Notes - Mercantilism
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NEW FRANCE: LOOKING BACK FROM THE CHAMPLAIN
CELEBRATIONS OF JULY 2008: ASPECTS OF GEOGRAPHY, ECONOMY
The main geographic focus is the St. Lawrence R. Valley, 1608-1763
(“Canada”), rather than all of New France, which, broadly understood,
included Acadia and regions further inland to the west, north and south.
Champlain established the first permanent settlement in what is now
Canada at Quebec in 1608. The July 2008 celebrations marking the 400th
anniversary of the founding of Quebec and the accompanying debates
provide a vivid illustration of politicians’ attempts to use history to serve
contemporary agendas (see the cartoon). This lecture will focus on several
aspects of New France in order to illustrate four broad themes in the
colony’s history: fragility, stability, distinctiveness, survivance.
THE IMPERIAL CONTEXT: mercantilist rivalries (in conjunction with, and
exacerbated by, military and religious rivalries)
THE ECONOMY: The fur trade provided the only significant export from what
is now Quebec. However, subsistence farming was the main activity of the
population there and in Acadia for much of the period.
GEOGRAPHY: the significance of the St. Lawrence River
SOCIETY AND ADMINISTRATIVE STRUCTURE IN THE ST. LAWRENCE R. VALLEY
demographic makeup and rural life; relative rural prosperity
urban New France: three small urban centres
administrative structure from the 1660s
the military establishment
role of the Church
ACADIA: THE NEGLECTED PART OF NEW FRANCE
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